By Pat Anson, PNN Editor
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned three companies that sell cannabidiol (CBD) oils, tinctures, edibles and other products to stop making claims that CBD can be used to treat pain and other chronic illnesses.
In letters to the companies, which the FTC is not identifying, the agency warned that it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat or cure illnesses without scientific evidence to support such claims.
One company’s website claims CBD “works like magic” to relieve “even the most agonizing pain.” Another company advertises CBD as a “miracle pain remedy” for both acute and chronic pain, including pain from cancer treatment and arthritis.
The FTC said the third company’s website promotes CBD gummies as highly effective at treating “the root cause of most major degenerative diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, asthma, and a wide spectrum of autoimmune disorders.” The company also claims its CBD creams and oils can relieve arthritis and fibromyalgia pain.
“In the letters, the FTC urges the companies to review all claims made for their products, including consumer testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the agency said in a statement.
The letters also warn that selling CBD products without substantiation could violate the FTC Act and may result in legal action. The companies were given 15 days to respond.
In March 2019, the FTC and Food and Drug Administration sent similar warning letters to three companies -- Nutra Pure, PotNetwork Holdings, and Advanced Spine and Pain — for making false and unsubstantiated health claims about a variety of CBD products.
Nutra Pure, which makes a line of hemp oil, now has a lengthy disclaimer on its website stating that its products “have not been evaluated” by the FDA and that they “are not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease.”
But when we posed as a customer in an online chat with “Kristen,” a NutraPure representative, we were assured that hemp oil can treat pain.
Customer: “Do your products help treat pain?”
Kristen: “There are numerous studies showing CBD has the ability to provide therapeutic benefits in the treatment of various conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety/depression, nausea, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, glaucoma and many other ailments.”
Customer: “Which one of your products helps treat fibromyalgia?”
Kristen: “We recommend starting with our 300 or 600 mg bottle.”
Customer: “Will that help joint pain?”
Kristen: “They are like an all in one type product.”
Customer: “What does that mean?”
Kristen: “One product helps with all types of conditions.”
Customer: “Including pain?”
CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. Much of it comes from hemp – a less potent strain of marijuana – that was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. There are literally thousands of CBD products on the market being sold online and over-the-counter without a prescription, often with dubious claims about their health benefits.
FDA and FTC enforcement actions against CBD marketers are sporadic and have usually only targeted small companies. But an FDA warning letter in July to Curaleaf, a Massachusetts company that sells CBD products nationwide, had an immediate impact on one large retailer. CVS Pharmacy pulled most Curaleaf products from its stores.